Prosecutors have shared new video footage of the Jan. 27 incident in Times Square, as seen above, in which a group of men including 24-year-old Yohenry Brito were lawfully ordered to disperse. NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny previously said that everybody at the scene dispersed "except for Mr. Brito," who is currently being held on $15,000 bail at Rikers Island. "He turned around and got confrontational with the police officers. He refused a lawful order," said Kenny.
The new video contradicts these statements and shows that the police were the aggressors.
Brito and the group of men he was with were standing outside of a migrant shelter when the two patrolling officers approached them and told them to disperse. "Let's go, vamos," one of the officers can be heard in the clip. Brito backed away from the officer and told him in Spanish not to touch him. The officers instructed the group to "go to West Four One," and they began to walk away.
Brito walked down the sidewalk and briefly stopped to get a baby carriage with his possessions. After making a remark about one of the cops looking like Ugly Betty as he walked away, one of the officers aggressively grabbed Brito and pushed him against the wall of the building nearby. The group of men he was with turned around and began to shout at the police. After a brief back-and-forth, Brito fell to the ground with one of the officers. The other men started to kick the officers and attempted to free their friend.
Speaking with The City, Police Reform Organizing Project director Robert Gangi says the video shows a better picture of the incident, which has become a major talking point among Republican lawmakers and voters who believe NYC to be a lawless city. "Why were the cops giving them a hard time, when they didn’t seem to be doing anything that calls for that?" Gangi said. "It does not justify the men throwing them on the ground and kicking them. But it seriously calls into question the behavior of these cops."
Prior to the release of the uncut body camera footage, police shared a condensed, 45-second version that edited around police antagonizing Brito and the group he was with. Seven individuals have been arrested on charges including assault on a police officer and gang assault. Heavily conservative media outlets, such as The New York Post, have been quick to capitalize on the fear-mongering potential of the story, especially since it involves migrants.
Brito has been indicted on second-degree assault, obstructing governmental administration, and tampering and hindering prosecution charges. Some of the charges against the other men involved, specifically 21-year-old Wilson Juarez, have since been lowered to lesser offenses after prosecutors were able to correctly identify everyone involved, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg confirmed earlier this week.
Earlier this week in Times Square, a live interview with former NYC mayoral candidate Curtis Silwa, the Republican founder of the vigilante group the Guardian Angels, was interrupted when his organization jumped a man they claimed was “a migrant.” It turned out the man is a U.S. citizen who lives in the Bronx.